Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘umbrella

The Last Minute Group Shot

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This morning I attended a graduation ceremony for a group of students who successfully completed a rigorous training course in American Sign Language. It was an exciting event that drew a few hundred people, mostly friends and family of the students. Bridget and I were involved heavily in helping run the course, and I even brought my camera to every session to document the entire semester. This morning, I arrived about an hour early to help set up the A/V equipment needed to run the graduation, but soon after I arrived, I was asked to take a class photo. A group of 35, a relatively dimly lit hall crowded with people, and uh oh…I didn’t have my camera. On top of that, the shot needed to be done BEFORE the graduation started.  The wife ran home and grabbed whatever she could for me while I set up the A/V. By the time she got back with some camera gear, however, we only had about fifteen minutes or so to get the shot. A photographic nightmare! I was sweating bullets as I frantically set up a light stand camera right with an SB-900 through an umbrella, feathered high and left. Second light is hand held by my wife standing on a chair camera left, feathered high and right. Now I had about 8 minutes until the start of the graduation program. Gulp.

See how many people were there? This is the reason why I had to use my ultra wide lens for this group shot. There were a TON of people already on site, including a crowd of people with point and shoot cameras behind me. This meant I couldn’t back up very far. So I mounted my Tokina 11-16,  rushed like crazy to try to get all the students in some sort of order, fired off four or five frames, and that was it, time to start the ceremony. Whew….trust me, it was harder that in sounds!

View the “last minute” group shot larger here.

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Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Written by Jonathan

July 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Soft, Wrapping Light

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Suki likes to hang out in the same room where I keep all my photographic equipment, so often times I’ll just go in the room, set up, and start photographing her. She’s there anyway, right? Last week, I decided to get a nice shot of her face, especially since I didn’t have a chance to go outdoors and make an image of her for week 11 of my 52 week project. There aren’t any large windows in the room and it was late afternoon, so it was artificial light or no shot. Suki is just about as soft to the touch as she looks, so I wanted to convey that softness in the photo.

Light from a bare strobe is not soft. It’s hard and harsh. So to make it as soft as possible, you need to diffuse it…a LOT. This is how I did it:

What you see here are two SB units (SB-800 and SB-900), firing up into an all-in-one umbrella with its reflective shroud in place. The light from the two units will hit the umbrella and come back down towards Suki, but not before it hits another layer of diffusion: a skylite diffusion panel. Using two units increases my light volume and keeps my recycle times shorter than using just one, since all this diffusion makes the SB units work harder. Now I have a bigger light source relative to my subject, and a softer quality of light (learned all this from Joe McNally!).

Poor Suki. Relaxing in a room, and all of a sudden these huge pops of light start going off above her head. This was her initial reaction to the big diffusion panel:

The sounds of the camera, the pop of light, the whine of the flashes as they recharge, the big beeps they make to indicate they’re ready to go, someone’s voice saying “look at me! look at me! stay! stay!” …. it’s a lot for a dog to hear and see. But Suki’s pretty used to it now.  In fact, she gets bored and sleepy after a while:

But hey, the final week 11 shot was worth the trouble, right Suki?!

Camera: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC and Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8

Sunset Portraits

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Nikon D300s + SB-900 (Camera Left) + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 14mm f/5.6 ISO100 1/200 Second

Bridget and I attended a wedding today that was right across the street from the beach. I didn’t take any photos at the wedding, but I seeing as I always have my camera with me, I decided to take some photographs of my lovely wife after the event with a beautiful sky and ocean as a backdrop.

Nikon D300s + SB-900 (Camera Left) + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 16mm f/9.0 ISO100 1/250 Second

The above shot reminded Bridget of a CD album cover. I really like the warmth in this photo, which gives it a very “golden sunset” appearance.

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 17mm f/5.6 ISO200 1/20 Second

There’s a reason why Bridget is so bundled up here. It was really cold, no more than around 50 degrees. There were also lots of cold and annoying gusts of wind that kept threatening to topple over my lighting rig. I used a smaller shoot-through umbrella to prevent this, but as you can see, there were times when Bridget had to step in and save my SB-900 from falling into the dirt. I’d post all the pictures of Bridget making miserable faces due to the cold, but I’d rather spare her the embarrassment (more like spare my myself a butt kicking!).

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6 ISO500 1/13 Second

This shot (above) was the last one for the evening, and I was running out of light fast at this point. I started having to nudge my ISO up to avoid shutter speeds I couldn’t hand hold. Plus, at this point, we were freezing! I love the coat Bridget is wearing here too. I actually picked it out and bought it for her at a store in Ginza, a large and beautiful shopping district in Tokyo.

Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/5.6 ISO200 1/30 Second

Can you tell I’ve been experimenting with hot shoe flashes? I thought I’d finish this post with this goofy shot I took of Bridget in our home last night. She has this great umbrella that we got at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. It has a blue sky with white cloud design on the inside. I lit Bridget with an SB-900 on camera left and kicked some light into the umbrella from behind her with my SB-800, both fired wirelessly using the built in flash on my D300s as a commander. Please excuse the mess in our living room! (it was a very impromptu shoot)

Written by Jonathan

November 22, 2009 at 5:14 am